How to Transfer to Stanford

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Aerial view of the surroundings at the Stanford University.

How to Transfer to Stanford

For many high school students, the dream of applying to and getting into Stanford University is a lofty one. Truthfully, even many of the most accomplished and intelligent high school students from all over the world end up on the outside looking in.

For some students, not getting into Stanford after finishing their four years in high school can be a truly crushing experience. Luckily, just because a student is not able to make the cut and enroll in the university as a freshman does not mean that they do not have other chances to become a part of the Stanford community.

Of course, we are talking about transferring to Stanford. But when it comes to learning about how to transfer to Stanford, there are a lot of very important things that any student should know.

At AdmissionSight, we make it our top priority to offer the students that we work with every application cycle the information and tools that they need to enjoy a successful application experience. But we don’t want to just stop there. Indeed, if we had it our way, every passionate and committed young person would get the opportunity to study at the school that they feel is the best fit for them.

Students, Hoover tower, and green trees in Stanford University campus.

If Stanford is that school for you, then you most likely already know that you are facing an uphill battle. Without a doubt Stanford is one of the most prestigious and selective undergraduate programs that high school students can apply to these days.

For that reason, it may be important for you to know how to get into Stanford as a transfer student. Whether you have already received your rejection letter from Stanford to enroll as an incoming freshman, or you simply want to know what options are available to you, then you have come to the right place!

Let’s break down how to transfer to Stanford and why doing so can be an amazing decision for your present and future.

Let’s get started.

Stanford transfer requirements

The first step of becoming a Stanford University transfer is – of course – making the decision that you want to transfer from the school that you are at. This is an important decision to make, and one that we will get into more specifically a little later one.

After that, however, you are going to have to start familiarizing yourself with the Stanford transfer requirements and deadlines so that you can be sure that you and your application are giving yourself the best possible chance to actually achieve your goal and get in!

Here are the application requirements that every prospective transfer student will have to send in.

Required Application Components

  • Coalition Application or Common Application
  • $90 nonrefundable application fee or fee waiver request
  • ACT or SAT test scores (refer to testing for score reporting policies)
  • Official high school transcript (should include your graduation date). Visit our Transcripts and College Report page for information about equivalent documents you may submit.
  • Official transcript(s) from every college/university attended
  • College Report (a form completed by a school official that provides information about your standing at your current or most recent institution)
  • Letters of recommendation from two academic instructors

Optional Arts Portfolio

  • The Arts Portfolio is optional and may be submitted to highlight extraordinary talent in the arts.

After submitting your application

  • You will receive an application acknowledgement email from Stanford once your application has been processed. Double-check that your email address is valid to ensure you receive all correspondence.
  • Check your Stanford portal  regularly to track the receipt of all required materials.
  • Add [email protected] to your email address book or safe senders list.
  • Consider applying for financial aid. Visit financialaid.stanford.edu  for deadlines and details.

On top of knowing about the required components that you will want to be keeping track of and checking off your list, you also want to be sure that you are aware of the application deadline connected to transferring to Stanford.

When it comes to the deadline and timeline connected to transfer students looking to get into Stanford, here are the key dates to remember:

Application with or without optional Arts Portfolio Deadline March 15
Materials for Arts Portfolio Deadline March 20
Last Acceptable SAT Test Date December
Last Acceptable ACT Test Date February
Notification of Missing Documents April
Decision Released By May 15
Student Reply Date June 1

One final thing to take a look at is eligibility. Basically, these are the things you must have fulfilled in order to be sure that you can indeed transfer at all. If you have not fulfilled all of these required prerequisites, you will have to make sure that you do so before you send in your transfer application:

  • Students who have completed high school and have completed courses for college credit in an associates or bachelor’s degree program since completing high school must apply for transfer admission.
  • Transfer coursework must be completed at an accredited degree-granting institution; coursework completed in vocational, technical, performance or professional programs is not considered.
  • Students must have a high school diploma, the state equivalent of a high school diploma, or a GED in order to enroll at Stanford.
  • Students who are dual-enrolled in both high school and college programs should apply for freshman admission.
  • Students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree are not eligible to apply for undergraduate admission, but they may contact the Graduate Admissions Office at [email protected].

Having the requirements in your mind is, of course, very important. It is also important to get a good gauge of what kinds of expectations the school is going to have out of students who do apply. Keep in mind, it becomes no easier to get into Stanford as a transfer student compared to getting in after you graduate high school.

In fact, considering the fact that so few students end up actually getting into Stanford as transfers, you can safely assume that it is quite a bit harder to get in this way.

In fact, an incredibly small 2.0 percent of students at Stanford are believed to be transfer students. Moreover, back in 2019, a total of 2,352 students applied to Stanford via transfer. That comes out to an acceptance rate of just 1.15 percent! That is far lower than even the incredibly competitive high school acceptance rate from 2021 of 3.67 percent.

One thing to keep in mind that may work in your favor, however, is the much smaller number of total students that do end up applying to Stanford as transfer students. Compare the 2,352 students that applied to be Stanford University transfer students compared to the 36,251 students that applied to the school from high school in 2021!

While the acceptance rate is far lower amongst transfer students, the total number of applicants is far lower as well. This may offer you an advantage in the sense that your application, your achievements, your essays and letters of recommendation could end up sticking out even more as opposed to getting lost in the crowd of the tens of thousands of typical applications.

Can you transfer to Stanford from community college?

One specific question that you may have regarding how to transfer to Stanford may have been, “Can you transfer from community college to Stanford?” Community colleges are frowned upon by some, but that is a completely incorrect opinion to have of these fantastic and important learning institutions.

Not only are community colleges crucial resources and places of learning for people who are unable to afford the exorbitant costs of four-year programs, but they also serve as an important opportunity for students who did not make the most out of their high school years to get back on the right track.

Lush green lawn and tree in front of the Hoover Tower and buildings at Stanford University.

Whether you are currently at a four-year college or university or a community college, you are more than welcome and fully eligible to transfer to Stanford.

The only rule regarding this is that you have to have completed at least one full year of transferable course credits. These credits have to be taken at the collegiate level so that you as a student would be considered above freshman standing once you get to Stanford. Typically, this will mean that you will have to have somewhere between 30 and 32 collegiate credits to get in.

For community college students, it is often advised that they do not actually apply to be Stanford University transfer students after just one year at community college, but instead two. While it may seem that the best way to go about transferring to a school like Stanford is to get your 30 to 32 credits done as quickly as possible to prove that you are determined and focused, that shorter time frame may actually end up working against you.

Instead, AdmissionSight advises that community college students actually make the decision to spend two full school years at that school. The reason why is because that will give you time to earn consistently impressive scores and grades in many different core classes.

On top of that, the more time you spend earning your credits, the more time your impeccable academic record will carry. On top of that, if tuition is a concern for you, spending two years at community college will give you twice as much time to satisfy necessary credits, giving you the opportunity to save a lot more money in tuition and still walk away with your degree from Stanford.

So, can you transfer from community college to Stanford? Absolutely! Making sure that you go about doing it the right way, however, could end up having a rather large impact on your level of success.

Tips to transfer to Stanford University

At this point in the breakdown, you are probably starting to come to terms with the difficulty and chances of success regarding how to get into Stanford as a transfer student. It is not easy, and there is a pretty small rate of success no matter how accomplished you are.

A female student holding a book while sight-seeing at the university campus.

For that reason, there is absolutely no shame in wondering what you can do, if anything, to improve your chances of getting in. While much of that answer will end up depending on you as a student specifically, there are some basic considerations that anyone thinking about transferring to a more prestigious school should keep in mind.

Here are some of the top tips to transfer to Stanford or any prestigious school in the United States.

Get your recommendation letters in a row

Whether you are trying to transfer to Stanford from a four-year program or a community college, you are going to want to have this part of your application do a lot of heavy lifting for you.

In order to complete your transfer application, you have to send in two letters of recommendation. These are going to come from two teachers from your four-year program or community college, and you should take care to make sure that you are picking the best teachers for the job.

A person writing a letter at the desk.

You will ideally have teachers who satisfy the following components:

  • They have taught you in multiple courses
  • They have taught you in courses related to your desired degree and/or field
  • They have seen you overcome odds, have witnessed you being a mature and positive member of your school community

Moreover, you want to make sure that you alert the teachers whom you want to write these letters of your plans to apply as a transfer, and you want to make sure to give them enough heads up ahead of time so that they can commit the necessary amount of time to the task!

Prove that you are Stanford material

Stanford takes its student community very seriously. After all, some of the young people who are studying at Stanford today will become world leaders in business, science, politics, the arts and more tomorrow. For that reason, you want to show that you have the desire and ability to do the same.

Show that you are Stanford material through how you took advantage of your time out of the classroom and got involved in your current school’s community. Extracurriculars can be a key ingredient to helping any transfer student make their application shine.

View of Stanford University campus with students everywhere.

On top of that, you want to be absolutely sure that you are making the most out of the crucial opportunity that comes in the form of the personal essay section of your application. Use these personal essays to show the admissions officers at Stanford not only what kind of student you are, but also what kind of person you are.

Talk about the challenges you have faced and overcome, the goals that you have for your future both as a student and professional, and why you believe transferring to Stanford will play a pivotal role in your ability to accomplish those goals.

Remember, there are many within the world of college admissions who consider a student’s personal essays to be the second most important aspect of their application behind their grade point average. Do not take that lightly and make sure that you are making the very most out of your opportunity to represent yourself as best you can.

Keep your options open

Finally, we just want to hammer home one final important thing to keep in mind. Even though Stanford may be your dream school above all other schools, you have to remember that there are so many wonderful options out there that welcome transfer applicants each year.

Whether you are looking for universities with top-level institutions, faculty and prestige, liberal arts colleges that can offer a more intimate and personalized style of education, or big state schools that provide that “all-American university feel,” you can find the right school for you as a transfer student.

If Stanford is your ultimate goal, you should absolutely reach for the stars and work as hard as you can to be part of that elite group of transfer students that do end up getting accepted. However, you should not limit yourself or your scope when it comes to finding fantastic schools that can provide you the kind of education and experience that you are looking for.

Get more help coordinating your Stanford University transfer

So now you know the basic information regarding what it takes to transfer to Stanford. Whether you have just been rejected, have already begun your transfer application process, or are just curious to learn, AdmissionSight is happy to offer you all of this information and so much more.

If you are curious to learn more about how AdmissionSight can take an active role in helping to make sure that your transfer application to Stanford is a success, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.


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